Customer empathy in business is a hot topic right now. However, it needs to be practiced the right way and right away.
A business that fails to practice empathy will quickly fade away to be never seen or heard of again. Indeed, practicing empathy is one of the best ways to understand the reasons for your customer’s behaviors.
Hence, by putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, you may better understand their feelings and perspectives, and then use that understanding to guide your actions. After all, the actions you take will hopefully not only be for your own financial benefit, but also to address the concern for your customers’ welfare.
What is customer empathy?
Customer empathy is the result of a deep understanding of customers as human beings, says Heather McCloskey of UserVoice. Even more, it’s about understanding the feelings, emotions, motivations, and frustrations of your customers. As a result, having empathy means seeing customers as “people” and not just “users.”
What is customer empathy not?
Empathy and sympathy are many times, and wrongly used as synonyms. In fact, the two terms explain to different actions:
- If you show sympathy for your customer, you’ll express pity or feeling sorry for her. Sadly, this action is without trying to understand the situation of your customer. Afterall, if you sympathise, you’re not necessarily interested in her wellbeing…
- On the other hand, if you emphasize with your customer, you’ll bring a tone of concern with your conversation. Most importantly, you will strive to focus on her interests and wellbeing.
Therefore, are empathy and sympathy not the same thing!
Communicating with your customers in an empathic way
It is no good once you’ve decided to practice customer empathy and your customers experience no change…
The thing is, your conversation with your customers should contain empathic phrases.
Miruna Mitranescu writing in Aircall gave examples of phrases that contain empathic elements:
|“I can understand how frustrating it is when…”|
|“I realize how complicated it is to…”|
|“I imagine how upsetting it is to…”|
|“I know how confusing it must be when…”|
|“I’m so sorry to hear that…”|
But, it’s one thing saying something in an empathic way – the real task is what to say and do thereafter.
The value of practicing customer empathy
Carrie Shaw, writing in Copper Chronicles list the following advantages for businesses practicing customer empathy:
- You get an opportunity to understand your customers better. Indeed, if you understand your customers, it’s easier to anticipate their wants and needs.
- Practicing customer empathy can help you to solve problems quicker and easier. For example, using empathy, you’ll be able to connect with your customer and so solve issues together.
- It can encourage reciprocal empathy. Sometimes you’re just not able to solve a customer’s problem. Again, you can use empathy to let your customer see and understand the situation
- It can help you predict problems. By practicing customer empathy, you’ll be able to predict a customer’s follow-up questions and answer them proactively. In fact, predicting your customers problems and how they feel will help you implement better solutions.
Indeed, humans are social beings and everyone has the capacity to develop empathy. Therefore, practicing customer empathy should be on top of the values statement of every business.
Sadly, many businesses are only focussed on short-term results and profits. As a result, their customers’ need, wants and concerns are not heard or acted upon. Indeed, their customers will look for others with a better ear, and who show empathy…
So, here’s a no-brainer! Do you want to gain a sustainable competitive advantage in your market place? Then start practicing customer empathy.
Besides, just listen to your customers and try to understand them – by putting yourself into their shoes!
Krznaric, R. 2015. Empathy: Why it matters, and how to get it, TarcherPerigee.